The perils of parroting
AS AN openly gay teacher, I thank Manny Pacquiao for stating on national television that members of the LGBT community are worse than animals. It gives me the opportunity to tell the youth to guard their thoughts, actions and reactions against unintelligence.
I am concerned that Pacquiao’s statement goes against some teachings that we hold crucial in forming students to become civilized individuals: responsibility, respect, critical thinking, self-expression, and love. And I cannot just be silent for if I do, I am allowing ignorance to triumph over education.
We are not teaching students to be parrots, repeating facts learned in school (or Bible verses, for this matter), but to become critical thinkers, capable of identifying and analyzing facts.
Based on my students’ posts and those that they keep on “liking” and reposting on Facebook, some are being clouded by the misleading and diverting issues and arguments concerning the boxing champion’s unintelligent statement.
If this issue will be easily forgotten and the public focus easily diverted, we are indirectly allowing him to influence our youth to be reckless in their language. In the same manner, we are teaching our youth that it is right to publicly make harsh, unintelligent, insensitive, unfair, and demeaning analogies, and to get away with it by mouthing Bible verses. In other words, we are telling them that it’s okay not to be responsible in stating their opinions as long as the words are supposedly supported by Christian beliefs.
Had the LGBT community kept quiet on the issue, there would have been no opposite reaction, thus consenting to bigotry and hatred forming in the minds of our students, and influencing how they think.
Instead of focusing on the real issue, many students, and even professionals, have abetted a diversion by commenting on the reaction instead of the source of it, the stimulus (if science teachers would like to use that). If we let this continue to happen, we are unconsciously teaching students not to answer back when being demoralized verbally.
I don’t promote Vice Ganda’s below-the-belt jokes, but it is pointless that he be the scapegoat just so Pacquiao can escape the harsh spotlight. It is also way too irrelevant to discuss what these people have done good (or wrong) just to contribute to the stretched havoc. Stick to the issue, we tell our students during debates.
If we let this irresponsible firing of words that sparked anger and hatred pass, let us not hope for a better Philippines. Let us stop teaching good values to students, for our efforts will be put to waste by a mere comment on TV.
It’s not that I am against the teachings of the Bible or discouraging students to believe in the Good Book. I just find it disturbing that many Filipinos (students or not), when presented an argument supported by Bible verses, stop reasoning and take the argument as the ultimate truth, ignorant to the reality that not all Filipinos subscribe to only one faith. (Enough of the “Catholic country” or “Christian country” notion, for the Philippines is not.)
I don’t know if teachers elsewhere still hold classroom debates. When we do, we always clarify why we obviously cannot use sacred texts as support for our claims and counterclaims, let alone serve as our main argument.
This defeats the very purpose of argumentation: to know all sides of an issue. When we impose and recognize the holiness of the Bible, we will never have a debate but just a consensus of ideas, for there will be nothing to argue about. Fundamentalists can always say, “That’s the truth. Period. That’s already God that speaks.” Would you go against him?
Instead of critically analyzing issues through an intelligent, 21st-century discussion, we tend to go back to the distant Spanish era when Filipinos were taught religion to impose fear. When we allow our students to use Bible verses in their arguments, we deprive them of their opportunity to learn critical thinking, which I believe is one essence of education.
Pacquiao, along with Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile (who once suggested that gays go to Mars) and their supporters, are the living encouragement of this kind of misleading argumentation and restriction to our students’ critical thinking abilities.
Clearly, Pacquiao is not a good candidate to represent Filipinos. Obviously, he doesn’t understand the concept of separation of church and state, or if he did, would he be able to decide on bigger issues in society without consulting the Bible first? We already know how he interprets the texts, so I am really bothered, and even more disturbed that our future voters think this is okay for a politician to do. You should be bothered as well.
If he cannot give an intelligent comment on same-sex relationships, I doubt he’ll be able to do any good for other groups in the Philippines, like the Muslims, the Iglesia ni Cristo, etc.
While this incident involving Pacquiao deceives our future voters into believing that a politician has the right to impose his religious beliefs on the rest of the country, it also discourages self-expression among those who are just identifying themselves (as gays or lesbians), and encourages bullying in schools. In 2013, I wrote an article in Young Blood stating my experiences as a bullied gay kid and student. My friends and I experienced condemnation because of being gays. The punch line? Because the Bible says so.
The media have a great influence in the way our students think. What if my students believe the same thing Pacquiao holds to be true? What if his fans tell me, or my gay students, “You’re an animal—that’s what the Pacman says”? I can’t make him accountable for it, but I will surely blame him if this results in daily fights among students, mine or not. I cannot permit the bullying of gay or lesbian students. Other teachers should do the same. “Love one another.” Don’t we teach them that very important Bible verse?
It’s common sense that Pacquiao crossed his line unintelligently, that his statements countered everything we teachers teach our students, who should be more critical in accepting, and careful in blindly following, one idea without giving it critical thought.
If we use the Bible to persuade all people into doing or not doing something, let’s forget teaching science, logical thinking and debate for we will always have the answer, the solution, and the winner in any discussion: the one who knows a lot of Bible verses. (Believe me, I once wanted to memorize both the Old and the New Testaments.)
I’m not implying that these Bible parrots are idiots; what I want to ask is: “Can’t you do more than parroting?” Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying they are parrots. I’m not Pacquiao to compare people to animals.
Marvin L. Senobio, 23, is an English teacher in a private high school.
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